Drawing History


How do historical facts and fiction mix when we look at pictures of the past? How do we become cowriters of collective history writing over the decades, and which history do we want to tell? What has not yet been told? And how can we read this in a single photograph?

Having these questions in mind, artist Patrizia Bach started the TOMIKO Archive, consisting of amateur photographs she has collected since 2001. Bach collects these photographs on the streets and flea markets; she also receives them through a »secret deliverer.« Currently, the archive holds about 500,000 pictures, mainly from twentieth-century Germany.

Her aim in doing so comes from the very emotional instinct to preserve the life histories that are so carelessly thrown away. That’s why the aggregated, collected thought is so important to her. There are no separated photographs in the TOMIKO Archive; the bundles and their legacies stay together.

After collecting the photographs, she categorizes and digitalizes them. Often the TOMIKO Archive becomes a source of inspiration for other works, like the present Archive Drawings, which the artist sees as a way to create an inventory of the first impression of each image. Each first impression and its drawing takes exactly five minutes. The central idea is to preserve an alternative history and histories and carry them into the present asking what happens if we confront these stories of the past with life today? And what do they tell about the present?

In this ongoing contribution, she displays drawings that she developed while taking inventory of volume F107, from the last delivery of the TOMIKO Archive.